I Need Your Help

I'm sorta having an identity crisis. OK, actually... I think I've resolved the crisis part, but now I need some help. Confused yet? Let me explain what's going on.

A few months ago I participated in a blog contest. One of the areas that we had to complete was coming up with a "perfect pitch." In other words, we needed to be able to describe our sound/music within 15 seconds. This is also known as the "elevator pitch." I actually didn't have too difficult a time coming up with mine (it's the phrase on my site that starts with "Imagine a steel cage match...") but that was because I had decided in the previous section that I was going to take on this contest as "Big Blue Barry, the artist" and not "Barry French, the composer."

Fast forward to a couple of weeks back. I found out that I was one of the 1st place winners in the contest and I was going to receive a free 6 week PR campaign. And that's about the same time when my identity crisis hit...

Stories From The Studio: Printing FX

I recently signed a deal for a song that I co-wrote with my buddy Joel for our Big Blue Shoes project. It's more of a Pop-Rock/Indie Pop/Rock kind of "band" and a definite departure from my Crushing Gray project and the "typical" Big Blue Barry metal tracks. But I digress... so, the library that is signing the track wants an instrumental version of the track as well as the full version with vocals. No problem. So I thought...

Though it feels like I've been doing this a LOT longer, the truth is, I've only been at this film/TV/production library and songwriting "career" for about two and a half years now. Granted, I've been playing music for a long time, and I did write my first song YEARS ago. It wasn't until January of 2008 that I truly became serious about it.

During these last two and a half years, I've had to learn quite a bit. Some of it was about songwriting. A LOT of it was about song production. I can pick things up pretty quick when it comes to "techie" stuff, but I didn't have the formal background or training that a lot of my peers, colleagues, and competition had. I've pretty much taught myself every step of the way. That's been a very fulfilling process, but I know that I've missed out on some things here and there. Which brings me to the topic of this post... printing FX.

Another placement on TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras

Another ASCAP statement, another placement on TLC. I can get used to this.

I tried to find a clip of the episode online but wasn't able to. I actually purchased the episode from iTunes for a buck. The track that they used was a pop-punk instrumental piece and it was used as "the reveal" at the end of the episode.

And yes, this was a result of a deal I signed with a company as a result of a TAXI forward.

Music Success In Nine Weeks Recap

Before I get to the heart of this post, here's a quick update of what's been going on since we last spoke :-)

While I didn't win the grand prize for the blog contest, I DID win one of the 1st place prizes - a free 6 week PR campaign! Look for that to start within the next month or so... I've been finishing up some of the "busy" work for one of my library deals, ie... paperwork and lots of stems and edits for about 25 tracks. This is a new start-up library that began about a year ago. We now have a MAJOR distributor in place and the first group of tracks will begin to hit the streets in about a month. I also signed my first deal for a vocal song with a very selective music library. The song is a co-write with my friend Joel and is going to be on the Crushing Gray album when all is said and done. I'm sure there's more stuff to update you about but it'll have to wait for the next entry.

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from Ariel Hyatt asking me if I could do a blog entry for her that basically re-capped my experience in her blog contest. She was so inspired by how the first one went that she's going to do another one. She'll be posting my blog summary on her site as a guest blog entry. Below you'll find what I sent to her.

Ariel asked me to provide a summary of my experiences with her first Music Success In Nine Weeks blog challenge. It's hard to believe that it's been three months since the contest ended. Seems like it was just yesterday when I was posting my final entry. But as I look at the calender, I can clearly see that the hands of time have moved well past that point in time.

I remember before I decided to take the challenge, that I was kind of sitting on the fence about it. You see, I'm not a touring artist. Haven't been in a long time. My dreams and goals at this stage are to one day be a full-time composer working with Film and TV. Hence my hesitation about taking the challenge. I wasn't sure how it would apply to me as a "stay-at-home composer." But after some great feedback from some musical colleagues, along with a gentle nudge from Ariel, I decided to take the challenge.

I remember going through the first chapter and just feeling overwhelmed right at the start. Not because of the amount of work, but instead, because of the "type" of work. While my wife is probably more of the "dreamer" type personality, I'm much more of the "nuts and bolts" kind. At my day job, I spend most of my time bringing other people's "dreams" into reality by doing the actual grunt work. So when it was time for me to dream big, I really struggled. And part of the reason for that was because I was trying to walk the line between "Barry French the composer" and "Big Blue Barry the artist." I wasn't sure "who" was taking the challenge. And looking back at the goals that I set for myself, I straddled the line between the two.

As the book progressed, I began to form a clearer picture of who I was as an artist. Developing our perfect pitch definitely helped solidify that "side" of me. As I'm typing this, I have a feeling I should probably read the book again, but this time, do so as "the film/TV composer" 'cause I'm sure my pitch would be different than what it currently is, which is "Imagine a steel cage match between Sevendust and Linkin Park with Joe Satriani as the referee..." in case you were wondering :-)

I remember being excited when I got to chapters 3 and 4. I knew that my web site was in need of some work and this was the perfect "jump start" to help me get it taken care of. I did the re-design myself, and while I'm not a graphic designer, I was very pleased with how things turned out. And in regards to the Web 2.0 sections, I was already doing some of those things and that chapter helped to improve my efficiency. I definitely remember feeling "victorious" at the end of those chapters.

The next couple of chapters, e-mail and mailing lists, were a bit of a challenge for me. And honestly, they still are. While I was in the contest, I definitely made an effort to grow my list, and it worked, as my list doubled in size in just one day. But once the contest ended, so did my attempts at growing my list :-( I do plan on attacking this one again as I did see some monetary results because of it. Simply put, if you follow her advice and stick with it, it works.

The other area that I struggled with, at least initially, was the Continuum program. Of all the chapters that made me wish I was back in one of my old bands, I think this one was it. If it were 10 years ago, I would have had no problem filling up one of the charts she provided in the book. But since I'm not touring and I don't have any merchandise, I wasn't really sure what I could offer. In the end, I wanted to do something that would help my career but at the same time help others and her idea of linking up with a charity really spoke to me. I ended up deciding on donating 30% of my album proceeds for the remainder of the year to 3 different charities (10% each).

It's been great trying to reflect on each of those entries that I did for the contest and remembering all the different things that were going on at the time when I wrote them. The contest was definitely worth doing. I made some new friends through the process as well as got a better definition of who I was and what my long term goals were. I'm also happy to say that one of my goals, to write and sign 50 new library tracks by the end of the year, has ALREADY been met!

So if you're reading this and trying to decide on whether of not this challenge is something worth doing, let me encourage you to give it a shot. There will be areas that you'll find difficult as well as areas that come very natural. But in the end, it will really help you to get a clear definition of who you are as an artist now, where you want to be as an artist, and the tools to help you get there.

Thanks again to Ariel and her crew for allowing me to be a part of the initial challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

- "Big Blue" Barry

First Deal for Big Blue Shoes

Some of you know about my side project with Logan Rayne Pepper that we call Crushing Gray. But I also have another project with my buddy Joel that we call Big Blue Shoes. I'm happy to announce that we just signed our first deal for a Big Blue Shoes song.

The track is called "Our Place" and you can hear it at our ReverbNation profile. The company we signed with is the same one that I signed the 6 exclusive tracks with back in April.

I know this is probably starting to sound like a broken record but once again, this deal is thanks to TAXI. But there's a twist to this story!

I tried to find which listing that I submitted the song to but I couldn't locate it. In addition to the TAXI Submission history page on our account, I also keep very detailed records about every forward and return I get, and yes, I still get returns too.

But the reason I couldn't find the listing was because... I didn't submit it! I've heard Michael mention on more than one occasion that TAXI will often pitch the music from the members without the members ever knowing about it and apparently this is one of those cases!

So once again... THANK YOU TAXI!